Idaho’s government, business and education leaders know that our state needs skilled and educated Idahoans to fill the jobs of the future. Employers are looking for individuals with training and expertise that often can only be learned through postsecondary certificate and degree programs. Jobs that require advanced certification, training or education empower our citizens to provide for themselves and their families.
There are admittedly substantial barriers to overcome in convincing our young people to continue their education once they graduate from high school. Postsecondary training and education is an investment in one’s future, and we must continue our efforts to help students understand this. My colleagues and I on the State Board of Education believe we must do our part to make the process of getting to college easier and we have been working closely with our public colleges and universities to that end.
Since 2015, tens of thousands of Idaho students, parents and educators have logged on to the state board’s Next Steps Idaho website to learn about career training and college options, to understand how to pay for college and to discover educational opportunities after high school. The site is also a key resource for college and career advisers across the state who are supporting Idaho’s nearly 89,000 high school students navigate planning for the future.
In 2016, the state board launched its Direct Admissions initiative, which proactively admits approximately 20,000 high school seniors each year to Idaho’s public institutions. Using college entrance exam scores and GPA information, the state board offers students admission to six to eight colleges and notifies them by mail of their acceptance during the fall of their senior year in high school.
Thanks to the close collaboration and generosity of our colleges and universities, the state board recently unveiled the newest tool making it easier for students to choose a college: Apply Idaho. This online application allows students to submit their information to one or more of Idaho’s public schools in just four simple steps – and for free.
As of Nov. 15, more than 20,000 applications had been submitted by nearly 8,200 students from every corner of the state. Seniors from some of Idaho’s smallest and largest high schools are among the applicants. Their interests and intended majors span the array of quality programs our colleges and universities offer, from diesel mechanics to engineering. Each institution has received hundreds of applications through Apply Idaho. We’re off to a great start!
The state board believes there is a postsecondary path and a bright future for every student. We strive to help them see and realize their potential. We encourage them to think boldly about their future. Idaho believes in the promise of our youth, and we look forward to seeing more of them use our tools to explore and pursue the postsecondary options that are right for them.
Linda Clark is president of the Idaho State Board of Education.
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